Just Because It's Insane Doesn't Mean It's Impossible

Just Because It’s Insane Doesn’t Mean It’s Impossible

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

National Geographic posted the 20 most hair-raising, legendary adventures on Planet Earth; quite possibly an open invitation and challenge to the world’s most hardy extreme athletes.

Among the many adventures listed, Kate Siber talks about swimming in the Arctic or Antarctic – something that only Antarctica pioneer Lynne Cox, North Pole pioneer Lewis Pugh (shown on left) and extreme swimmer Ram Barkai have purposefully done with only a swimsuit, cap and goggles.

It takes a certain kind of individual to accomplish these feats, let alone even think them up or think them possible. Lewis Pugh, the only person to swim at both the North Pole and Antarctic talks about how he never slept more than 4 hours per night during his years with the SAS. Lynne Cox talks about how she sits in a tub of ice water – and her core body temperature increases. Ram Barkai travels around the world to try his hand at increasingly difficult sub-5°C (41°F) swims.

We suspect with so many hundreds (if not thousands) of swimmers now regularly training in sub-5°C, it is only a matter of time before others also head to the extreme ends of the Earth to swim in some of the darkest, coldest, most frightening waters possible. But others on a lower budget simply look around their own areas to fill their need for the extreme, like Nuala Moore and Anna Marie Ward who will venture into the extreme in Ireland in December.

If you prefer warmer, tropical waters, from our first-hand experience, there is nothing like swimming above hundreds of circling hammerheads in a circumnavigation of Yonaguni Island at the southern tip of Japan near Taiwan. Looking down in the crystal-clear water at the majestic creatures gliding effortlessly below while swimming in some of the most gorgeous waters of the world is simply unforgettable. A circumnavigation of Yonaguni Island, so close to multitudes of lingering hammerheads sharks is an ideal open water swimming combination of thrill, risk and beauty.

And that is what these adventures identified by National Geographic Magazine offer: dangerous thrills, inherent risks and scenic beauty:

1. Wingsuit Fly in Switzerland
2. Surf Big Waves in Tasmania
3. Hike the Triple Crown in the USA
4. Ski K2
5. Free Climb Yosemite’s El Capitan
6. Cross the Sahara Desert
7. Kayak over Waterfalls
8. Descend into a Volcano
9. Swim, surf or climb the North or South Poles
10. Ski the Hahnenkamm Downhill Race
11. Trek the Amazon River
12. Climb the Seven Summits
13. Dive Bahamas Blue Holes
14. Bike from Alaska to Argentina
15. Solo sail around the world
16. Swim with Great White Sharks in South Africa
17. Run the Mount Blanc Circuit Ultramarathon
18. Paddle the Bashkaus River in Siberia
19. Do the Wenger Patagonian Adventure Race
20. Climb Mount Everest

The next best adventures are described as follows:

21. Climb Java’s Volcanoes
22. Dive Glacial Meltwater in Iceland
23. Ski Dave Murray Downhill in Whistler
23. Trek to Machu Picchu
24. Climb Aconcagua in Argentina
25. Dive the Yucatán’s Cenotes
26. Bike Baja California
27. Skipper your own boat
28. Dive with hammerheads
29. Trek the Mount Blanc Circuit
30. Raft the Grand Canyon
31. Do the Explore Sweden Adventure Race
32. Hike to Everest Base Camp
33. Get Airborne in Queenstown, New Zealand
34. Surf the North Shore, Hawaii
35. Hike the Appalachian Trial
36. Ski Denali in Alaska
37. Climb the Tetons’ Cathedral Traverse
38. Camel Trek Morocco
39. Kayak or Raft the Zambezi

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones